New Book “Merle Haggard: The Running Kind” Released (Giveaway)

September 20, 2013 - By Trigger  //  News  //  143 Comments

merle-haggard-the-running-kind-book-david-cantwell-001From author David Cantwell and the American Music Series of the University of Texas Press comes a brand new book about the iconic country music Hall of Famer and Kennedy Center Honoree Merle Haggard. Covering his entire career, but focusing mostly on his most prolific decades, Merle Haggard: The Running Kind delves into this complex, often contradictory icon of country music, exploring the creation of many of Merle Haggard’s greatest hits and the life and times that inspired them.

This 294-page book focuses on the music, and the man. From humble beginnings in California, to becoming one of the most well-recognized names in country music, Merle Haggard: The Running Kind explores the fascinating contradictions—most of all, the desire for freedom in the face of limits set by the world or self-imposed—that define not only Haggard’s music and public persona but the very heart of American culture.

Merle Haggard: The Running Kind is available from the University of Texas Press, Amazon, and all major online book retailers.

Saving Country Music is also giving a copy away to anyone who wishes to leave a comment below, naming either their favorite Merle Haggard album or song. And if you can’t pick just one, list as many as you want. Just make sure to include your real email address so we can contact you if you are the winner.

***UPDATE: Congratulations to David Smith who won the free copy! Thanks everyone else for contributing!

Purchase Merle Haggard: The Running Kind from the University of Texas Press

Preview & Purchase The Running Kind On Amazon

143 Comments to “New Book “Merle Haggard: The Running Kind” Released (Giveaway)”

  • The Bottle Let Me Down

  • Today I Started Loving You Again
    Okie From Muskogee
    Mr. DJ

  • If this is anything like the Doug Sahm book the university press put out a couple years ago it should be pretty good. Simply not enough book on Merle out there.

    Too many favorite Merle songs to list, but a great under rated one is ‘Make-Up and Faded Blue Jeans’

    • The University of Texas Press puts out some of the best music books out there in my opinion, and really takes their role of preserving the history of music seriously.

  • I got to see Merle about 10 years ago at the Birchmere in Virginia, great show. Long live the true hero’s of country music.

    • I wonder if I was there that night. I have only seen him once, about 10 years ago, and it was at the Birchmere. Normally, the Birchmere is a listening room where talking during the show is highly discouraged. It turned into a raucous honky tonk that night! Never saw so much whiskey drank there before. But yes, great show.

  • Heaven Was A Drink Of Wine- amazing song!

  • “That’s The Way Love Goes”
    “Big City”

  • I love Merle, and I’d love to get this book!

  • Sing Me Back Home
    I can’t wait. Merle had an autobiography back in the 70’s, I remember reading it back then. He talked about how he got caught for B&E and how it landed him in prison. He also talked about growing up poor and hungry. The man is a master, and really, one of the very few we have left. We should hang on his every word, as long as we can!

  • Hard to pick a favorite song, but the Swinging Doors/Lonesome Fugitive/Sing Me Back Home/Branded Man medley on “Live From Muskogee” has to be one of the most badass medleys ever!

  • I had the pleasure of meeting Merle many years ago. He asked me what my favorite song of his was – when I told him, he put his arm around me and called me “a spirited young lady”! The Fightin’ Side of Me.

  • Mama tried
    Okie from Muskogee
    I think Ill just stay here and drink

  • For some reason Lonesome Fugitive has always been my favorite.

  • Back to the Bar rooms
    place to fall apart
    wish I was 30 again
    Chill Factor
    wishin’ all the old things were new
    love his cover of Blaze Foley’s if I could only Fly
    favorite album is Back to the Bar rooms or Chill Factor
    one of the favorite show’s I ever saw was a double bill Merle Haggard and Bob Dylan

  • Too many to list them all, decades worth of timeless music!

    Silver Wings
    Going where the lonely go
    Big City
    Daddy Frank
    Cold War
    White Line Fever

    The list goes on and on……………………

  • Today I Started Loving You Again

    Not a finer song ever sung.

  • “Sing Me Back Home”

    Hope I win. I am ready to read more about Hag.

  • This is a tough one, but “Are the Good Times Really Over (I Wish a Buck Was Still Silver)” will always have a soft spot in my heart. It as my grandfather’s favorite song, and me and dad would ride up to the cemetery, have a beer and reminisce with this song playing. Unfortunately, I now carry on this tradition for the both of them…

    I know… it sounds like a sad country song.

  • first song coming to mind-Are The Good Times Really Over For Good
    album-the one he recorded at a bunch of churches

  • The Bottle Let Me Down
    I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink
    Today I Started Loving You Again

  • Honky Tonk Night Time Man

  • I think I named my favorite Merle song on another giveaway thread. The majority of my Merle collection is contained in the wonderful Down Every Road 4-CD box set, whcih covers 1962 – 1994. One of the best box sets I have and it’s still in print. Another great one is Dwight Yoakam’s “Reprise Please Baby: The Warner Brothers Years.” Speaking of Dwight, the University of Texas Press put out a great book on him called A Thousand Miles written by Don McLeese. Both McLeese and David Cantwell were writers and editors for the old No Depression magazine, which I treasured. So, confidence is high that this book is a winner.

  • Dear Hag

    I’m so glad mama tried! God bless her and God bless you too.


  • Swinging Doors, Mama Tried, Tonight The Bottle, Lonesome Fugitive, Silver Wings, Think I’ll Just Sit Here And Drink…

  • That’s the Way Love Goes…the perfect jukebox song

  • White Line Fever
    Here In Frisco
    Ramblin’ Fever
    Sing Me Back Home
    Mama Tried
    I’ll Always Know
    Mirrors Don’t Lie
    I Think I’ll Just Stay Here & Drink
    Skid Row
    I’m A White Boy
    Gone Crazy

  • for now I Threw Away the Rose or I Take A Lot Of Pride In What I Am

  • Swinging Doors

  • Ramblin Fever

    The song is upbeat, really describes Hag, and I love the guitar work

  • Sing Me Back Home.

  • Hi,
    Mama Tried and Hungry Eyes are my favorites,


  • I believe with this one I have gotta go with The Swinging Doors album. My grandpa loved that entire album and first introduced me to ol’ Hag with it. You got the title track(my favorite), The Bottle Let Me Down, Shade Tree Fix It man, I mean c’mon! You can’t go wrong!

  • “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink”

  • Big City. Montana and getting out of my city job just seems to always hit me.

  • “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here And Drink”
    “I Take A Lot Of Pride In What I Am”
    “Ramblin’ Fever”

  • kern river (#1)

    more than my old guitar

    slowly but surely (with the GREAT bonnie owens)

    bar room buddies
    (its a silly song but its got clint eastwood and its the first merle haggard song I ever heard)

  • Mama Tried

  • Swingin’ Doors, Are The Good Times Really Over For Good, Big City, Honky Tonk Night-time Man, Old Man From The Mountain, etc., etc., etc. Ol’ Merle’s a huge influence on both my singin’ and my songwritin’. Got to see him a few years ago at the Paramount in Seattle with Neko Case opening. Damn near a religious experience and easily the best concert I’ve personally been to so far.

  • Wow, there are so many. My top picks are Misery and Gin, Rainbow Stew, Ramblin’ Fever, Mama Tried, The Fugitive, Kentucky Gambler, and That’s the News. Oh, and even though it’s a duet, The Ballad of Pancho and Lefty. I get goosebumps when Merle sings his part.

  • This is a hard question, in my opinion, because it was Merle who got me into classic country music, so if I had to choose some of my favorites, they would be:

    10: I Made the Prison Band
    9: Blues Stay Away from Me
    8: Unforgettable
    7: The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde
    6: It’s Gonna Be Me
    5: Laugh it Off
    4: Branded Man
    3: Honky Tonk Night Time Man
    2: I’m a Lonesome Fugitive
    1: Sing Me Back Home

  • Honkey Tonk Night Time Man and I am What I am. I hope to see him sometime live but I would love a time machine and see him in his prime.

  • Used to see Hag around my birthday every year when Tramps was open in NYC. Been too long…

  • Misery and Gin
    If I could only fly.
    Sing me back home.
    Father’s daughter.
    Silver wings.

    etc. Ask me tomorrow you’d probably get different answers :)

  • Swinging Doors!

  • Thanks for pointing this out, Trigger. My favorite album of his, and one of my favorite country albums of all time, is The Peer Sessions. An amazing update of some very old songs, but clearly done with the utmost respect and class. It’s neither a complete throwback/copycat nor a modern butchering that loses the old flavor. And, unlike Same Train, Different Time or My Salute to Bob Wills (both of which I also like), it’s done in the prime of his career when his voice is older, mellower, more mature. A perfect storm of awesome country ingredients making a really memorable record. Highly recommended!

  • His recent album I Am What I Am is pretty great (especially “I’ve Seen It Go Away” and “Mexican Band”). But I’ve got a cassette called It’s Been a Great Afternoon from the 80s which is completely awesome. Every song on it is my favorite. Nothing like driving around singing “Sky-Bo” and “The Immigrant” and “I Can’t Get Away.”

  • I think Ill just stay here and drink

    I’ve had his autobiography on my list of books to read for awhile now. Does anyone have any other suggestions for great books about country music?


    • i’ve read several, but my personal favorite would probably be george jones’ “i lived to tell it all”

    • George Jones, I lived to tell it all. Read it, you won’t regret it.

  • I always thought “Fightin’ Side of Me” perfectly captured Americans pride and pugnacity. Merle Haggard expressed this idea with a humble sureness that a jackass like Toby Keith could never understand.

  • “I Won’t Give Up My Train” – duet with Roger Miller (outtake from Big City sessions) He recorded at three versions of this song.

  • Songs I’ll Always Sing (album)
    and “No Show Jones”

  • I’ve always loved Merle’s album “Kern River.” Sooo underrated!

    • Also, If We Make It Through December may be one of my favorite songs of all time.

  • Sing me back home

  • I saw Merle in concert in Del Mar, CA.the late 70’s. Marty Robbins opened for him and played 2 encores before Merle came out (slightly peeved). Marty put on a great show but Merle put on a helluva show and when I hollered out “By Golly” during Okie From Muskogee…I’ll be damned if Bonnie Owens didn’t turn from the first row and smile at me. Made my day that much better when I realized who I was sittin’ behind. Great Memory tHANKS for the post…nice to live it again!

    • oh yeah…His duet “Sick, Sober and Sorry” with George Jones is one of my many favorites.

  • Going where the lonely go, Mama tried, or I threw away the rose.

  • Ramblin’ Fever

  • Wishing all these old things were new

    • great pick!
      love both of those albums he recorded with epitath/anti

  • Mama Tried
    Are the good times really over for good

  • The Way I Am, Holding Things Together, A Place To Fall Apart, This Song Is Mine, What Have You Got Planned Tonight Diana, I Wonder Where To Find You At Tonight, Chill Factor, Thirty Again, Kern River,What Am I Gonna Do(With The Rest Of My Life), If We Make It Through December.

  • Back To The Barrooms!! Best album, hands down :)

  • Mama Tried & Sing Me Back Home. Would love to win this book!!

  • 1a. Big City
    1b. My Own Kind of Hat
    1c. The Way I Am

  • The Way It Was In 51, Silver Wings, The Legend of Bonnie and Clyde, Daddy Frank and It’s All In The Movies.

  • Silver Wings. And because my Mama loves it too. But my true personal all-time favorite songs are – The Way I Am and Heaven Was A Drink of Wine. I melt when they come on.

    Merle Haggard.. just damn. Love him.

  • Mama tried and America First,

  • Arrrghhhh, I can’t believe I forgot to list this one in my comment! Lol! “Stand up for the flag and let’s all ring the liberty bell…”

    It’s funny. You list a few and then you start thinkin’ about other songs and then I scrolled up to read everyone else’s comments… and I’m like DAMMIT. Haha.

    I Won’t Give Up My Train.. like for real. Perfection.

    Or Sing Me Back Home.. just gives me chills. Misery and Gin is just awesome. Footlights.. need I say more. I will shut up now and turn my Merle up.

  • Mamma Tried
    I Wont Give Up My Train
    I Think Ill Stay Here And Drink
    Okie From Muskogee
    Rainbow Stew

  • “i wish a buck was still silver”

    one of the greatest songs ever recorded, period. love hag!

  • Because of Merle Haggard’s music, I am “Learning to live with Myself.” Even through my darkest days, Merle Haggard seems to understand “The Way I Am.” I listen to Merle Haggard every single day and “It Always Will Be.”

  • “Mama Tried” is my favorite from Haggard and among my favorites of all time.

  • So many good ones…I’ll have to go with Kentucky Gambler o Caroline..

  • Workin’ Man Blues
    Mama Tried
    If We Make It Thru December
    The Fightin Side Of Me
    And the one and only….Okie From Muskogee

  • Sing me back home… Great song!

  • Hag is an all time favorite of mine. I can get it down to three songs – Big City, Rainbow Stew and Workin’ Man Blues.

  • “If we make it through December”

  • He lives not too far from here in Mount Shasta. I’ve seen him a few times in the Redding area.

    I have always liked Ramblin’ Fever best but Tell Me Something Bad About Tulsa and The Longer You Wait are close seconds.

  • Holding Things Together
    Ain’t Your Memory Got No Pride at All
    Always Wanting You
    Long Black Limousine
    Back to the Barrooms Again
    Rainbow Stew
    Mama’s Hungry Eyes
    Yesterday’s Wine
    The Way iam
    Sing Me Back Home
    Farmer’s Daughter
    Branded Man
    Bar Room Buddies
    Today I Started Loving You Again

    Just wanted to list my fav Haggard songs cause i’m not much of a reader.(except SCM of course)

  • “Silver Wings” (among countless others)

    But that one, despite never having been on a plane in my life or ever having to bid farewell to someone leaving at an airport, just about kills me everytime.

    • Great song period, but I also love the arrangement – – that thing they do on the chorus……would you call that syncopated…..”but you’ve locked me out of your mind……”. it’s probably a simple thing but it’s such a signature of the song that I listen for it with anticipation. It always ticks me off when cover bands don’t get that part right. :)

  • Sing Me Back Home
    Mamma Tried

  • The Bottle Let Me Down, Mamma Tried, Swingin Doors. His drinkin songs have been hitting me hard lately. It’s truth.

  • I could say them all but I’ll say “Mama Tried”

  • Kern River and Mama Tried. I saw him last summer in Kentucky and he put on a great show. He’s getting older but still has that amazing voice.

  • Has to be Make Up and Faded Blue Jeans.

  • His boxset “Down Every Road” was well-done. As far as songs go, it’s hard to pick just one so I’ll list a handful: a) “Sing Me Back Home,” b) “Today I Started Loving You Again,” c) “Someone Told My Story,” d) “Mama Tried,” e) “The Fugitive.”

  • That’s easy – mama tried!

  • Im a White Boy

  • Big fan of “Misery and Gin”

  • Mama Tried

  • Laugh it Off

    a current favorite

  • Honestly, I can’t think of a single song that I would fast forward through on a Merle listening session. They all have something to offer. But if I had to pick some….
    Misery & Gin
    Silver Wings
    Someday when Things Are Good (not sure but I think Leona Williams might have written this one)
    Daddy Frank
    Mama’s Hungry Eyes
    Going Where the Lonely Go
    Kern River
    Mama Tried…….. I could go on and on, but I guess I better give someone else a chance…

    Saw Merle once in Valdosta, GA and had tickets to see him again in Macon, but he got sick and ended up being in a Macon hospital the day of the concert. I wasn’t able to go to his make-up concert but I heard it was fantastic. This is making me want to go look up his tour schedule.

  • California Cottonfields….and everything else Merle has ever sung.
    I knew this book was coming ,just wasn’t sure when.
    I look forward to reading it.
    Hag is my fave.

  • Mama Tried

  • Mama Tried
    The Bottle Let Me Down
    Misery and Gin

  • I’m a Lonesome Fugitive

  • Today I Started Loving You Again

  • My answer changes all the time, but for now I’ll go with Misery and Gin.

  • Twinkle Twinkle Lucky Star
    Mama Tried
    If We Make It Through December

  • Merle Haggard is the absolute no-holds-barred greatest. Nobody has his range of styles, his deep songwriting, his voice (which in its peak period from the 60s through the 80s was in my opinion the greatest voice of any male singer in country music history), his ability to keep growing. His ability to keep surprising us is unabated. His commitment to the truth, whether of his views of America, or of his own heart, or of growing and aging, is unflagging. His toughness is matched by the tenderness he is unafraid to show – making him an inspiration and a model to me as a musician, and as a man.
    As far as his albums, for me it’s a three-way tie, from three different eras of Merle’s:
    (I) I Take A Lot of Pride In What I Am – includes the title tune, The Day The Rains Came, Somewhere On Skid Row, I Just Want To Look At You One More Time and others. This one’s from around ’68.
    (II) Serving 190 Proof – includes Red Bandana, I Wear My Own Kind Of Hat, Footlights, I Didn’t Mean To Love You, Got Lonely Too Early and others. From around ’79.
    (III) If I Could Only Fly – includes title tune, Ain’t No Ridin’ Bareback Anymore, Think About A Lullaby, Wishing All These Old Things Were New, Turn To Me, and others. From around 2006.
    Thank you for what you’re doing. Saving Country Music is a terrific site that helps me feel I’m not crazy. Or, if crazy, not alone!!

  • The Fightin’ Side of Me

    There are so many amazing songs but this is the one that gets me every time!

  • Big City
    That’s the Way Love Goes
    My House of Memories

  • “I Wonder If They Ever Think of Me” always gets me.

    But that opening line in “I Take Alot of Pride in What I Am” is probably my favorite line ever written by Merle. “Things I learned in a hobo jungle,
    were things they never taught me in a classroom…”

  • “Shopping for Dresses”
    “Our Paths May Never Cross”
    “Always Wanting You”

  • “Mama’s Hungry Eyes”
    “Kern River”
    “Workin’ Man’s Blues”

  • My favorite Hag tune changes with the wind. Right now, “Rainbow Stew.”

  • The Way I Am
    Ramblin’ Fever

  • My Favorite Memory
    Misery & Gin
    Always Wanting You (was this really about Dolly Parton?)
    Rainbow Stew
    Mam Tried
    Today, I Started Loving You Again
    I think I’ll just stay here & drink
    If we make it through December

  • “today I started loving you again”

    nuff’ said…..that song is the story of my life.

    seen the original hand written lyrics at the country music hall of fame, in the “Bakersfield” exhibit, in Nashville…..almost broke down and cried right there.

  • “I Can’t Be Myself”

  • “My Own Kind Of Hat”

    Classic Haggard song, which represents his personality perfectly. He truly does wear “his own kind of hat”, and is a true country music original.

  • I’ve gotta go with some lesser known Hag classics, but ones that engage emotion every time I hear them:

    What Have You Got Planned Tonight Diana?

    his cover of Iris Dement’s “No Time to Cry”

    I Never Go Home Anymore

  • No experience like Merle live, especially duing the 80’s when he had 7 or so musicians in the Strangers. Favorite part was always the Bob Wills tribute. Remarkable, he never seemed to repeat the same set list for the Bob Wills songs. Even with his huge catalog of hits, he always devoted 1/3 of the show to the people that inspired him.

    Favorite song: Working Man Blues

  • […] a few words on my project while over at Saving Country Music they’re running a contest where you can win yourself a free copy of my book. Good […]

  • Shopping For Dresses

  • 3

    What Have You Got Planned Tonight Diana
    If We Make It Through December

  • Go Home

  • My Own Kinda Hat and Kern River were always favorites of mine.

  • Mama Tried ,Okie From Muskogee nothing like hearing plus from Muskogee when you in Muskogee lol

  • Sing Me Back Home

  • Workin man blues

  • Ramblin’ Fever.

    Also, if you want a good scare/laugh google “Merle Haggard Shitty Fred” for an interesting prison story from Merle.

  • “I think I’ll just stay here and drink”

  • It is impossible for me to pick a single song …. this week my favorite is…..

    I’m bringin home good news .

  • Too many to name with the Hag, but one of my favorites to sing myself and the one with some of my favorite lyrics by the true poet of the working man would have to be “White Line Fever.” I never tire of hearing (or singing) that song.

  • Silver Wings

  • swingin doors, ramblin fever, think I’ll just stay here and drink. his cover of Blaze Foley’s ‘if I could only fly’, get’s to me.

  • *gets*

  • just stay here and drink
    annoying women asked me to dance to that song once.
    I said,
    “I’d rather do what the song says!”

  • Misery & Gin

  • Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down.

  • “I Think I’ll Just Stay Here and Drink”

  • The way I am

  • The Running Kind

    ‘ll Break Out Again Tonight

  • Sing me a sad song …..

  • The Farmer’s Daughter

  • It’s no problem at all for me to choose an album, because “Pride in What I Am” has always been one of my top 5 albums by anyone. Each of the 12 songs is a masterpiece and while Merle probably wasn’t think in terms of making a concept album, I do believe these songs make up a cohesive album which touches on several themes that have been consistent over the nearly 60 years of production. I’d love to write more but it would turn out into a lenghty essay.

    So I’ll pick my favorite song from that album.”I’m Free”, a little gem which celebrates living freely in nature without any of society’s traps, of being penniless yet wealthy in his mind and spirit, because of his absolute freedom. Unlike Springsteen’s rivers that don’t know where they’re going, Haggard’s rivers keeps him aware there’s always something new for him to see. That notwithstanding the song was written by his friend, Leon Copeland.

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